Erin Yarwood is a journalism junior and opinion columnist for Mustang News. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang Media Group.
There are few times in a person’s life where they are given the opportunity to recreate themselves and stray from the persona they have formed, to become something new. Leaving home for the first time is the moment in most people’s lives where they take hold of this chance, when they feel drawn to redesign. People begin exploring their interests, passions and careers without any influence from the crowd and lifestyle they have grown up around. These explorations bleed into self-expression.
There are endless ways humans express themselves, but an almost obligatory form is through what we choose to wear. While some people have been able to express their personality through their clothing for quite some time, for others starting from scratch in a new place kickstarts this change. It allows for their styles to drift from what they have been guided into wearing.
Style has become a new way to characterize people when you see them. It’s another form of categorizing people. Style instagram accounts for different colleges are a norm now, and asking people where they get their clothes is another online fad. Granola, skater, street wear, aggie, whatever the style may be, we make assumptions of people based on it. But, in what way does what you wear really tell who you are?
“I think it’s a pretty good representation of where I am at life, or what I’m trying to be,” sophomore ethnic studies major Mariana Perez said when asked if she thinks her clothing represents her as a person.
Perez is wearing baggy Dickies pants with old skool Vans, a simple tank top and a corduroy hat. Her hair is in bubble braid pigtails and there’s a gold necklace around her neck. Her clothing is all thrifted or gifted and warm-toned.
Her necklace used to be her mother’s before it was handed down to her. It is something that brings her comfort.
“When I entered high school she gave it to me, and I haven’t taken it off since,” Perez said.
Perez expects people will characterize her off of her clothing especially because a lot of people gender clothing.
“I think people perceive me as someone who’s kind of masculine or like a tomboy,” Perez said. “But, then my fashion also fluctuates a lot. I think I confuse people sometimes.”
Clothing can communicate a variety of messages to people we encounter. Some people use clothing as a form of persuasion to convince people to think certain things about them. Others wear certain clothing due to comfortability or practicality. Sexuality, gender expression, interests, and passions can all be shown in how we present ourselves.
“Sometimes I wake up, and I feel like a little boy. I dress like a little boy,” senior liberal studies major Kaitlyn Ambrose said. “And sometimes I wake up and I feel Lana Del Rey, and so, I dress, dress on the emotion, I guess, is how I dress.”
Ambrose is dressed in a long skirt and tiny top with a white, tied cardigan on top and brown Doc Martens and little bows in her hair. When she says that today she was dressing like Lana Del Rey, I immediately agree she nailed it.
“My sexuality definitely plays a big part in how I dress. I feel like I have a very fluid sense of gender expression and sexuality and therefore it comes out in my clothing,” Ambrose said. “I’ll wake up feeling girly and dress girly and then halfway through the day I’ll be like I can’t do this shit anymore and then dress more masculine.”
Ambrose finds creativity in getting ready everyday. She said that getting ready is the only time that she can find everyday for a bit of artistic expression, so she takes advantage of it. While others may dress for practicality or comfort, Ambrose finds dressing in tune with how she feels works best for her.
“I feel like I think a lot about how I’m going to be perceived, but it doesn’t necessarily change how I’m dressing,” she said.
So, yeah what we wear does matter, but a lot of the meaning is behind just the aesthetics of an outfit. What we wear carries meaning through why we picked it out, where we got it, who we got it from, who it reminds us of, and the emotions it evokes in ourselves and others. While we can make presumptions about others based on the style they choose, self-expression through clothing has many layers and they can’t all be seen on the surface. I believe that you are what you wear, but that’s not all.